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That time on SPACES!

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It’s so easy to be social on Twitter. Arthit can log in at any time and catch up on tweets about all his favourite actors and shows and no-one will ever know that it’s him. He can retweet and comment to his heart’s desire and no-one from his real life will ever know how he feels. It’s perfect too, to hide his obsession, because the reality is: Arthit is utterly in love with the famous actor, Kongpob Suthiluck, and he’d be mortified if his friends or family ever found out the truth!

Online, he is @A4KS - a Stan account with Kongpob’s smiling face as his icon and a banner made of a collage of his most iconic roles. He follows a lot of other fans and he DM’s with some of them regularly. Like @JKS who he’s been writing to since he first joined the fandom almost a year ago.

Their DM’s are full of fanboy comments and sharing information that they’ve found online about their favourite actor, as well as quite a few messages about their own lives (all quite anonymous of course). They also spread their wings beyond ‘Kongpob chat’, talking about other actors and shows they are interested in as well as pop-culture and items on the evening news. Occasionally, Arthit even shares something personal from his own life (always biting his lip and itching to delete it immediately after).

For Arthit, who only has a handful of good friends, none of whom he would ever talk about Kongpob with, Twitter and his DM’s with @JKS, are a lifeline.
-

He logs in one Friday night to several notifications about Kong’s new venture, a YouTube channel he’s just set up. Arthit clicks into it immediately and subscribes along with the other 100k followers. It’s exciting to see the teaser Kong has provided and he’s thrilled when he sees that his first video is due to be posted within a few days.

There’s a DM waiting for him back on Twitter, from @JKS, asking if Arthit’s seen it and what does he think?

He spends a bit of time on his reply, wanting to get the right tone of both excitement and anticipation for the coming videos and his friend types back to him quickly asking what kind of videos he thinks the star will produce in the future.

They’ve been talking for a while when he receives a DM from another online friend inviting him to join a Twitter Space. He’s never heard of them, so he taps on the link to see what will happen and is surprised when a page pops up with icons he recognises from comments on his Tweets.

He DM’s @JKS to ask if he knows what it is, but he doesn’t, so he hesitantly clicks on ‘Join’ and waits to see what happens.

Immediately, his headphones are filled with the sound of voices chattering away. He jumps at the sound and panics for a moment that they can hear him too. But then he spots the ‘Listener’ written beneath his name whereas others have ‘Speaker’ and relaxes. The group are excitedly talking about Kongpob’s YouTube channel and he searches the page to try and figure out what he’s just made himself a part of.

While he explores the Space, he sees that his friend has joined too and DM’s him to ask what he thinks they should do. @JKS replies that he’s going to stay a ‘Listener’ because he’s never been part of one of these before and Arthit agrees, listening as the whole group discusses his favourite actor.

There are several times when he wants to comment on something a member is saying, but obviously he can’t. However, he and @JKS send private messages back and forth chatting about what is being said.

It’s really cool to hear people he recognises from his timeline and from comments on his posts, chatting, and he wonders if he could be brave enough to join in.

The chat goes on for hours, tripping between a plethora of Kongpob related subjects and Arthit knows that if he was a speaker he would have quite a lot to say. He’s sort of working up the courage to ‘Request to join’ (with lots of encouragement from his friend), when the Host politely ends the space and he’s catapulted back out to his Twitter feed which is full of posts all about the group he has just been part of.

There’s a message from the host thanking them and a suggestion that they meet again the next night and have another chat. And Arthit feels a thrum of excitement in his veins that he’s just been part of something all dedicated to Kongpob and he’s thrilled at the thought of being part of it again.

He and @JKS send a few more DM’s, both interested in listening in again and his friend encourages him to join the next night, telling him that he would be a vibrant part of the chat and that he’d love to hear Arthit speaking as passionately as he writes about Kong.

 

Later, in bed, he considers it. Turning the idea over and over in his mind, thinking of the possibilities if he does join. There’d be the fact that everyone would hear him fanboying over his favourite actor, but if they follow him, then they’ve already seen his tweets, so they should already know how deeply in like with Kongpob he is.

The worst thought is that they’ll hear his voice.. and Arthit hasn’t a clue how he sounds in person, not really. He isn’t the type to randomly record himself reading or singing or anything and he avoids watching videos of himself if he can. If they hear his voice, he wonders what they’ll think of him.

He’s way past the stage of squeaky voiced puberty, in fact so far past that he’s sometimes a little embarrassed to be a fanboy. He’s the same age as his idol and while he knows that a lot of fans are tweens or a little older, not many are around his age, that much he knows from watching Kongpob’s fan meetings online.

The chat tonight had been solely female too, which is another issue that concerns him. At the moment, he is anonymous. Only @JKS knows he is male, if he believes what Arthit wrote. They’ve bonded over being male in a mostly female fandom, it was one of the things that made them continue chatting beyond the initial shared interest in Kongpob.

When Arthit had realised that @JKS was also male (or so he said) they had spent a long time discussing how difficult it could be to relate to other fans. Arthit certainly didn’t disclose that he finds Kongpob attractive. He mostly talks about his love of his acting style, the choice of roles he makes and the nuances he brings to characters that are unique in each series or film he stars in.

Kongpob is extremely talented and that’s what draws Arthit in (mostly).

@JKS has never commented on whether he finds Kongpob attractive and he’s not very active in the fandom, mostly commenting on Arthit’s posts alone, although he follows thousands of other fans when Arthit checks. His account is locked too and he only has a small number of people following him which has always interested Arthit.

@JKS doesn’t have a header of Kongpob’s face, it’s a beautiful photo of a sunset with the Bangkok skyline painted over it and Arthit was drawn to it on the day he first checked out his friend’s profile. It’s a serene photo and stands out in a sea of Kongpob banners and pics.

His friend’s profile picture (a chunky cat) and biog also don’t mention Kongpob, and Arthit sometimes wonders how the guy came to notice his tweets in the crowd on his timeline. But he’s too nervous to ask.

But he still wonders.
-

The next evening, when he’s finished work for the day, has eaten a good meal and cleaned his room, Arthit logs into Twitter and checks out the fandom.

There are a couple of posts of interest that he QRT’s and he takes time to check out Kongpob’s official page and his manager’s too. There’s nothing much of interest but he does comment on a few posts he spots.

As he’s finishing his sweep of the timeline, he notices a DM pop up, so he checks to see that @JKS has messaged him.

Are you joining the spaces thing tonight?

He quickly replies to say he’s going to listen in.

You should speak! You have so many interesting things to say.

He’s still thinking about it when the icon pops up on his feed and he clicks into the group chat.

The host is someone he’s chatted with enough to feel comfortable to speak to and so, within a second, his finger has hovered over and then clicked on the ‘Request’ button.

His heart beats erratically while he watches it connect, but when it does, he feels calm as the host calls out his Twitter handle and asks how he is.

He falls into an easy pattern of listening and speaking, sharing his thoughts and opinions with ease and it feels really good to hear what other fans think of his ideas.

There’s a stream of messages appearing in his inbox from @JKS too and he’s praising Arthit for the things he’s saying and the way he’s explaining and also a few messages that say how much he likes Arthit’s voice.

It’s not a lie to say that Arthit appreciates @JKS saying that, nor that he feels excited that his friend can hear him speaking. He replies to the messages and suggests that he also joins in as a speaker, but his friend is reluctant so Arthit doesn’t force it and just continues to message him, adding some of @JKS ideas to the conversation and crediting him for them.

The host is wrapping up the chat when one of the newer speakers asks Arthit how he, as a man, got into Kongpob and he has to pause to decide what to say.

“The thing is.. I don’t think there’s a gender issue with supporting any actor, is there? You like what you like, right? I mean, Kongpob’s first role was the one that caught my eye. I know most people know him for his first series, but for me it was when he had that bit part in the murder mystery drama. He just lit up the screen! His eyes on camera are incredible, they speak volumes about the feelings of his character, and I loved how he was so humble in every interview. He makes me feel like any one of us could sit down and have a coffee with him and feel utterly comfortable, he’s just that kind of guy.”

Someone else pipes up to agree with him and said that having met him at an event, he is like that. Meanwhile Arthit’s heart thumps in his chest. He hadn’t really meant to say something like that. He feels like he’s over shared and he wishes he had taken his time to think through his response.

But everyone is supportive and many of them agree with him about Kongpob, so by the time they are saying goodnight, his heart has reached a more natural pace and he feels like his first foray into live chatting has been a success.

It’s only when he’s in bed and ready to fall asleep that he realises @JKS went quiet towards the end of the chat and didn’t send him a message when it was over. And he’s disappointed. And he’s not entirely sure why.
-

The next day, after work, he flicks open the Twitter app while he’s on the train home. His notifications icon shows 50+ which is a rare occurrence for him, being a small account with only a few hundred followers.

When he clicks on the button, the first one is a link to an interview and as he clicks further down, loads of other accounts have tagged him with it. Additionally, he seems to have hundreds of new followers, most of them with pictures of Kongpob’s face. Curious, he clicks on the first link and Kongpob’s handsome face appears on the screen.

Looking through the comments, he sees that people are crediting him for the content and he wonders what on earth he’s missed.

Hesitantly, he clicks and is rewarded with an interview that he’s never seen before. It’s date stamped for today and as he watches he hears words he recognises, ”One of my fans recently said that I make him feel like any one of my KongClub could sit down and have a coffee with me and feel utterly comfortable.”

The interviewer asks how it makes Kongpob feel and he replies, eyes shining, “It makes me feel amazing. I’ve heard similar things from my fans before, but this was in a casual conversation between them and it really touched my heart. So thank you @A4KS, you really made my night.”

Arthit’s heart is thumping in his chest by the time it’s over and he’s certain everyone around him must be staring at his red face. (Of course when he looks up, they aren’t.) Carefully he reads through the dozens of other notifications, liking and replying where necessary until he reaches his stop.

Once he’s home, he watches the interview again, taking his time to watch the sparkle in Kongpob’s eyes as he speaks, the way he moves on the screen and how beautiful his voice is. He has to be honest, he falls a little bit more in like with the actor with every second of the video.

Reading through all the comments he sees one that says, It’s almost as if Kongpob was there in our spaces last night, listening in. What do you guys think?

And under it a dozen comments, agreeing with the original poster.

Arthit checks his notifications and the dozen DM’s he’s received, but none are from @JKS and he feels a touch of regret in his heart. His friend hadn’t messaged last night and now he’s not sent him anything during the day when normally he would have been bantering with him about Kongpob’s newest interview.

Arthit worries that something might be wrong. Normally they would share if they were planning to go away somewhere or be offline. Their friendship is a year old and for Arthit at least, it is one of the strongest ones he’s ever had even if it is conducted through messages online. He feels so comfortable talking to him that he wishes there was a possibility that they could become friends in real life, though he knows the chances are slim.

Still feeling concerned, he opens up their DM and looks through their last few messages, sent during the Twitter Spaces last night. There’s nothing that he can see that would stop their conversation, so he tentatively taps out a message asking if he’s okay.

The reply comes quickly, Sorry. It’s been one of those days. I had a bit of an emergency last night so I couldn’t reply then, but I saw everyone going crazy over the interview and tagging you. Are you okay?

Arthit sends a reply to say he’s completely amazed at the interview and is worried about being called out by the actor, and another message shoots into his inbox instantly.

I wanted to talk to you. Can we chat?

Here?

I thought I could start a space? I only have a few followers, so no-one should join in?

Arthit fusses with his robot figures for a second as he decides what to say. He wants to talk to his friend, really he does. But it’s also a bit scary of course, even if it’s only @JKS.

Working up his courage, he types his reply and waits.

The notification pops up almost immediately and he clicks to join the space.

@JKS was right, they’re the only two in there which makes him a speaker immediately. It’s nerve wracking as he waits to see what will happen. And then.. something wonderful does.

“Hello Arthit.” Says a familiar voice, beautiful and cultured, sweet to his ears.

Arthit’s heart starts to dance in his chest and there are drums thumping in his ears.

“Arthit?” The voice says again and he tries to take a breath.

“Kongpob?” He asks, and then the Space ends abruptly.

Arthit can’t relax. His heart is still thumping way too fast and he can’t stay still, dancing from foot to foot around his room as he waits to see if a message pings into his inbox.

He’s sent one, tentatively typing, Sorry if I made you feel uncomfortable. Your secret is safe with me and I hope you feel secure to talk to me again one day. I would really miss your messages if not. You are truly someone important to me and I wait in anticipation of your DM’s every day because I love talking to you. I hope you’re not sad that you tried talking to me tonight, because I’m not. I would really miss you, my friend.

It’s on ‘seen’ so he knows that at least Kongpob’s DM’s are open even if the actor has walked away from his screen. That, or he’s staring at it like Arthit is and waiting.

The dots appear while Arthit watches. And then they stop. They start again. And stop. And the whole time Arthit feels like he is on a precipice, teetering on the edge and he could fall either way.

Eventually the dots start and continue. And then the message appears and Arthit closes his eyes and says a little prayer to himself before he can look.

I’m sorry about that. Someone joined the chat just as you were speaking. I had to shut it down. I shouldn’t have taken the risk, Arthit. But, I love talking to you too and you make my day better every time I see your name in my DM’s. If you’re serious about chatting with me and keeping it a secret, which I cannot stress the need for enough, then could you come to my next Fan Meet? I will arrange a ticket for you. It’s next week. I hope that it’s a yes. I await your reply with bated breath. K x

Arthit genuinely thinks he’s going to hyperventilate as he reads through the message over and over, eyes scanning the words.

Kongpob likes talking to him! No, he loves talking to him! Kongpob wants him to come to one of his events and will arrange a ticket. He’s going to keep talking to Arthit. He wants to see him and speak with him again.

Through a pink coloured haze, he taps out a response, Yes please.

He can’t write anymore, his emotions are so highly strung now.

Kongpob sends a smiley face and writes that he will send the details soon and Arthit sends a heart icon, unthinkingly and then cannot take it back.

He hides under a pillow on his bed for a while and when he dares to look back, he sees a matching heart in response.

 

It’s not easy to sleep that night, but when he finally closes his eyes, it’s with images of Kongpob Suthiluck bouncing in his dreams telling him he loves talking to him and shooting hearts at him.
-

The day of the event comes quickly and though they’ve still been chatting on DM, he can’t begin to imagine what it will be like when he can see him in the flesh at last. Despite being a huge fan, work commitments and lack of funds have always prevented him from making it to an event where he can actually see his idol. So it’s natural that he is feeling both excited and nervous.

His Twitter feed has shown him that dozens of his mutual are attending the event and he’s been tagged multiple times to see if he is too. So far, he hasn’t bothered replying. He doesn’t want anyone to know he’s going to be there and it’s not like he could be recognised by his face since he’s never put a picture online.

Instead, all of his attention will be on Kongpob.

He finds his seat in a sea of fangirls, a little too aware that he seems to be the only male in his section. But then the MC comes on stage and he’s quickly caught up in the atmosphere.

It’s a while before Kongpob comes on, but when he does, Arthit can’t help but cheer along, so excited to see his idol live in front of him.

And Kongpob is amazing, singing beautifully, chatting with the crowd and getting them all to join in.

He plays some games with his fans and Arthit is disappointed that his ticket number doesn’t get called. But then, just as they’ve announced it is the last song, Kongpob stands centre stage and says, “I want to dedicate this to my incredible fans. You are so very special to me and especially to my Twitter fans who keep the fandom going and say the nicest things! As I said in my most recent interview, I’m so pleased you think that I’m just a regular guy you could enjoy coffee with.. so, I hope that one lucky fan wants to do that with me soon? Let’s pick a winner.”

The crowd goes utterly wild as a box is brought on full of white papers. Kongpob reaches a hand in and swirls them all around before pulling one out.

“Ticket 206? Are you there?”

Arthit’s jaw has dropped as he stares down at the ticket in his hand. His number is burning itself across his eyelids as he slowly raises a hand and the people around him jostle him and help him to make his way down the row to the stage.

Once he’s up there, Kongpob catches his eye and winks and the crowd goes even more insane!

He’s brought to the side of the stage while Kongpob sings his last song and then the actor is standing in front of him, a little sweaty, a little hoarse, but pretty much perfect in every way.

“Arthit?” He asks and Arthit finds himself nodding in disbelief. “I’m so glad you came.” Kongpob continues, “But I can hardly believe you won this!”

Arthit frowns as he eyes up his idol, “You mean you didn’t rig this so I’d win?”

Kongpob shakes his head firmly, “No way! I wouldn’t ever do that, look, come here and I’ll show you the box.”

He reaches out a hand and their skin touches and Arthit feels like his knees are going to give way but he manages to shuffle after him until they’re beside the box from before. Then Kongpob reaches in and drags out a handful of the papers, showing him the numbers printed neatly on each one.

“So, if you didn’t plan this, then what is this?” Arthit says weakly as he looks at them all scattered around him like confetti at a wedding.

Kongpob’s smile almost splits his face in half, “Fate, Arthit. I call this fate!”

Their coffee date is on a Tuesday.

Dinner happens the following Saturday at a secluded restaurant that Kongpob knows well.

The following Friday, Arthit ends up at another of Kongpob’s fan meets, this time watching from backstage.

Then by the end of the month, he’s joining him on a quick weekend in Phuket for a special event where he doesn’t just stay backstage, but joins in with the other fans and catches Kongpob’s eye every now and again, and each time the actor winks and raises an eyebrow.

They share a room at the resort and although it’s all new to them, they curl up together in the giant king sized bed and snuggle and Kongpob kisses his forehead lightly after checking if it's okay.

By the third month, Arthit spends his weekends at Kongpob’s when he’s free, cooking together, lazing around and watching films, playing with Kongpob’s cats and catching up on each other’s lives. At night they do more than just curl up, exchanging heated kisses, long and languorous touches in Kongpob’s bed and spend hours enjoying being wrapped in each other’s embrace.

After five months, their families know and they are each as welcome in the other’s childhood homes as they are in their own. Their parents have become close friends and there are family dinners that sometimes interrupt their weekends, although they don’t mind so much.

Twelve months arrive and they have still managed to keep it a secret, but they’ve talked about how they might reveal their love.

It happens at a concert. Kongpob’s sell out tour that ends in the largest stadium in Bangkok. He’s almost finished when he confers with his band and asks the audience for silence.

Then he walks into the wings and calls for Arthit who comes willingly.

“Will you come on stage?” He asks, not for the first time, and this time.. it feels right. So Arthit nods and then Kongpob nods and a microphone is attached at his hip and an earpiece slid in.

They walk out hand in hand to rapturous applause.

“A long time ago,” Kongpob begins, hand tightening around Arthit’s, “I met a man on Twitter. He didn’t know, when we first met, who I was. But he cared for me - both Kongpob the actor and the nobody I was online.”

Arthit ducks his head as the crowd go wild, screaming and yelling for them. But then Kong raises a hand and the noise falls away, leaving a buzz of excitement only.

“Today, I want to share with you something special, because, even though we’ve spent a lot of time together this year, we have never stopped exchanging messages and Arthit writes the most amazing ones!”

Suddenly, the hall plunges into darkness and one of Kongpob’s biggest hits begins to play as a video starts on the big screen - messages from him to Kong and back.

They are the sweetest ones, the ones where they praise each other, long before they knew each other’s names. Throughout the tweets are snippets of story, explaining when they were shared and the context behind them.

The audience is calm, listening and watching and waiting.. The excitement can almost be touched in the stadium as they wait.

And then it happens, Kongpob’s short interview when he’d mentioned Arthit and their subsequent messages pop up. Arthit tries to hide in Kongpob’s shoulder but his boyfriend makes him look.

There are hundreds of tweets between them from Kongpob’s time on the road and away from him, reminders to eat dinner, check ins about their day, a lot of messages about Kong’s cats and the precise amount of food they need to be fed since they had looked ‘tubby’ in the video call the night before.

It goes on and on and Arthit is amazed by how many gorgeous messages that scream their love they have exchanged.

But then it stops and the hall is in darkness once more, the roar of the crowd growing louder.

In the dark, he loses track of Kongpob, until a spotlight appears and rests on the star, in the centre of the stage, resting on one knee.

“Arthit? Will you come here? I have something to ask you..”

It feels impossible but the roar of the crowd increases as Arthit picks his way across the stage to Kongpob.

And then another spotlight hits the stage and he sees his family and Kongpob’s family mingled at the edge and the tears start to fall. He looks down at his boyfriend and he knows what he wants and he knows what he wants to say in reply.

He waits, anticipation making his toes curl as Kongpob merely stares at him.

Arthit breathes hard and then whispers, forgetting his mic, “Are you going to ask?” And the crowd roars afresh.

Kongpob laughs, “That’s my man.” And there are titters of laughter from their families who are waiting too.

“Is this going to be like the time I had to watch you typing for almost an hour on Twitter and then it just said, Love you?” Arthit manages to say through the lump in his throat making the crowd laugh again and making Kongpob smile at his feet.

“No, no. I just, wanted to wait for the right second.”

Arthit raises an eyebrow as his boyfriend looks down at his watch, “Arthit. I love you, baby. More than I knew I could love someone else. You make me so happy every second of our time together, and now,” he looks at his watch again, “That it’s legal to marry in Thailand,” the crowd’s roar is louder than his microphone and he has to say it again.

“Now that it’s legal to marry in Thailand, my love. Please will you be my husband? And can I be yours?”

They kiss in front of a thousand cameras and their parents, up on the big screen. And Arthit doesn’t care.

He’s so happy that he feels like it’s oozing out of his pores as they kiss and kiss and kiss and their families join them and congratulate them and Kongpob’s manager and his band and the crew.

And then, when it’s just them in the space and Kong’s thousands of fans watching, he says, “I’m glad I met you @JKS.”

And Kongpob replies, “I’m glad you decided to be sociable that day.”

And Arthit hits him on the chest and then kisses him again.

The End.